In Rousseau and Critical Theory, Alessandro Ferrara argues that among the modern philosophers who have shaped the world we inhabit, Rousseau is the one to whom we owe the idea that identity can be a source of normativity (moral and political) and that an identity’s potential for playing such a role rests on its capacity for being authentic. This normative idea of authenticity brings unity to Rousseau’s reflections on the negative effects of the social order, on the just political order, on education, and more generally, on ethics. It is also shown to contain important teachings for contemporary Critical Theory, contemporary views of self-constitution (Korsgaard, Frankfurt and Larmore), and contemporary political philosophy.
RousseauJean-JacquesCrockerL.G.Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality Among Mankind (1755)The Social Contract and the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality1967New YorkSimon and Schuster149258in J.J. Rousseau
RousseauJean-JacquesDiscourse on the Sciences and Arts (1750)The Social Contract and Discourses1993LondonDent EverymanJ.J. Rousseautrans. and with an Introduction by G.D.H. Cole revised and augmented by J.H. Brumfitt and J.C. Hall updated by P.D. Jimack
See. H. MarcuseOne-Dimensional Man. Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (1964), with an Introduction by D. Kellner (London and New York: Routledge2002) 43–44. For a different interpretation of the same Rousseauian paragraph about the legislator in terms of exemplary universalism see below 46–51.
Rousseau Jean-Jacques (1967a) The Social Contract (1762) in J.J. Rousseau The Social Contract and the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality edited by L.G. Crocker (New York: Simon and Schuster 1967) 17–18.
A. Honneth“Idiosyncrasy as a Tool of Knowledge. Social Criticism in the Age of the Normalized Intellectuals” in Pathologies of Reason. On the Legacy of Critical Theorytrans. by J. Ingram (New York: Columbia University Press2009) 185.
R. SennettThe Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism (New York: Norton1998); A. Elliott and Ch. Lemert The New Individualism. The Emotional Costs of Globalization (London: Routledge 2006); Z. Bauman Globalization: The Human Consequences (New York: Columbia University Press 1998) and Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity 2000).
See RousseauThe Social Contract40–48. On the role of the legislator see the discussions offered by R.D. Masters The Political Philosophy of Rousseau (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1968) 354–80 and R. Polin “La fonction du législateur chez J.J. Rousseau” in Jean-Jacques Rousseau et son oeuvre (Paris: Klincksieck 1964) 231–47.
J. Rawls“Kantian Constructivism in Moral Theory”Journal of Philosophy1980 88 519. A similar view can be found in Political Liberalism where Rawls states that a conception of justice that passes the test of reflective equilibrium “is the conception that so far as we can now ascertain is the one most reasonable for us” Political Liberalism (1993) Expanded Edition (New York Columbia University Press 2005) 28.